Jian Ghomeshi does injustice to BDSM community

Janie Ginsbergjanieginsberg-online
Managing Editor

Jian Ghomeshi is a liar – allegedly.

Worse, actually. He is being called a women-beating, self-absorbed, abusive, pathological liar.

The CBC radio host deserves everything he’s gotten. A tarnished reputation, a destroyed career, and, should police lay charges and a court convict him, a criminal record. It doesn’t matter how hard he worked for the CBC, or how much time he spent building the “Q” empire. It all goes out the window if you lay an unwanted hand on someone.

And all it takes is one, self-entitled, hand.

I met a man on my travels; we spent three days together platonically. We drank beer, we played pool, and we explored the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. He knew about my gay sexuality, he knew that he wasn’t my “type,” yet that didn’t stop him from grabbing my ass – and that changed everything. I felt violated, offended, and downright shocked. The next day I left the city.

But not all women have that option. Although the extent of what happened to Ghomeshi’s purported victims is not comparable to my experience, some have said they didn’t have the option to leave.

They were co-workers, actresses in the public spotlight, and fans who were star-struck and felt powerless in comparison to such a prominent man.

So far nine women, two of whom have identified themselves, have spoken out about their experiences of abuse at the hands of Ghomeshi. This wasn’t an isolated incident, one lashing out by a spurned ex-lover. The women spoke out from all over the country and were clearly not conspiring together.

The Globe and Mail reported about an experience that a woman from New Brunswick had with the host after a weekend at his house in Toronto in 2012. She said he choked her until she almost blacked out, beat her with a belt, and left her with bruises – all non-consensually. Apparently, Ghomeshi’s idea of consent is explaining via text message that his violent tendencies were “pure text fantasy” and that “none of it would happen in real life.”

It isn’t taking charges of abuse against Ghomeshi for people to see the truth. Victims of abuse often do not come forward after suffering at the hands of someone they thought they could trust. This is something we’ve seen in the media for years, it’s practically common knowledge.

Public outcries against Ghomeshi’s actions are strong evidence of this.

I know people who have faced different levels of sexual abuse and harassment, and they couldn’t bring themselves to tell even their closest friends, let alone walk into a police station and relive the experience in front of complete strangers.

In his masterfully crafted Facebook post that outlined his side of the story, shortly after his termination at CBC, Ghomeshi uses the BDSM (the acronym alludes to bondage, dominance/discipline, sadism, masochism) as a shield for his unforgivable actions. He appealed to Pierre Trudeau’s famous quote, “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” but swapping the state for the public eye. In 1967, Trudeau declared that the government had no business in the sexual lives of consenting Canadians, keyword consenting.

Expert members of the BDSM community have come forward and explained that it is a well-known fact within their sub-culture that the submissive person is in complete control – always. Safe words are everything. If Ghomeshi’s “tastes in the bedroom” were truly in line with the kink community, he would know that once it becomes apparent that the submissive person isn’t comfortable with continuing, everything stops immediately.

According to studies on the history of BDSM subculture, contemporary practitioners of BDSM follow three principles strictly: safety, sanity and consensus.

Ghomeshi’s reported actions go against these core values.

Closed-fist punching in the face, which Ghomeshi is accused of doing, is an example of extremely advanced BDSM. Experienced participants say this form of sexual play is rarely used because of the high-risk of serious physical damage. It was reported that an anonymous woman said Ghomeshi did exactly that 10 years ago without consent, on a second date.

By some accounts, the earliest records of BDSM behaviour date as far back as before the 18th century, when whipping was a well-known sexual stimulant. Since then, BDSM subculture has gone through several stages: sexual contacts, sexual networks, sexual communities, sexual movement, and finally the sexual culture that exists today.

Kink activists have worked hard to convince the general public and media that what occurs in their private lives, although alternative, is discussed at length and completely consensual. To outsiders, physical and emotional abuse and BDSM play can look the same, and Ghomeshi’s press strategy took advantage of that gap in knowledge. In a PR driven attempt to save his career, he put the hard work of the kink community at risk, indicating that he has no respect for BDSM culture at all.

The only person who believes the sexual acts were consensual is Ghomeshi. The Globe and Mail reported that during a meeting (three days before he was fired), the radio host presented CBC management with texts, e-mails, and photos of his sexual encounters. The evidence, intended to prove consent, backfired, and the managers changed their views on Ghomeshi. In their opinion, according to the Globe account, “(Ghomeshi’s conduct) was far more aggressive and physical than anything they had been led to believe during months of discussions.”

Everyone who supported Ghomeshi has turned against him. His friends, employers, colleagues, adoring fans, and even the PR company he hired.

And when a company won’t even defend you for $600 an hour, we know you’re full of shit. People love money, but it’s in our human nature to serve justice.

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